Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed
Written by Daniel Chadwick-Shubat
Jason Bourne AKA David Webb is, in my opinion, cinema’s greatest spy. His skills in badassery have graced our screen for 14 years, and his tortured soul has proven the ultimate specimen to dissect on the screen. There’s such a thing as the “Bourne formula”, which all the movies have followed since ‘The Bourne Identity’ in 2002. With ‘Jason Bourne’, the franchise has returned to the formula that was lost in ‘The Bourne Legacy’, and created undoubtedly one of the best action movies of 2016.
Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass return for the fifth installment of the franchise, and bring back the chemistry that made ‘Supremacy’ and ‘Ultimatum’ such great movies. Damon brings a different physicality to the role here, that he didn’t have in previous installments, and barely talks throughout the movie (only uttering 30 lines in total). This works, in an unexpected way, and makes Damon’s emotions and choreography stand out much more.
Almost a decade after exposing Blackbriar, Jason Bourne is back with most of his memories intact. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is back too, and enlists Bourne’s help in leaking classified files that the CIA predicts could be a leak “worse than Snowden”. This is where the movie turns into a highly cerebral game of cat and mouse, taking us from Athens to London to Las Vegas. Greengrass and his cinematographer Barry Ackroyd do a fantastic job of making the audience feel as though they are there, and his signature “shaky cam” really brings a level of authenticity to the action that leaves you digging your nails into your seats.
Over the years I’ve learned that I like movies that take their time and develop the story in a natural, organic way. Sadly, many audiences don’t have that sort of attention span, and these sort of movies are not given a proper chance. However, ‘Jason Bourne’ does this beautifully as screenwriter Christopher Rouse builds tension minute-by-minute until the full-throttled third act that features some jaw-dropping practical effects.
The new cast does a fantastic job of incorporating themselves into the world of Bourne; Vincent Cassell is fantastic as the “Asset”, never being named but leaving a big mark on the film. His motivations are understandable and he’s without a doubt one of the toughest enemies Bourne has had to face. Alicia Vikander is surprising as Heather Lee, an analyst who has high ambitions and crosses over the line of ally and enemy many times throughout the movie. It takes a special actor to steal scenes from Matt Damon, and Vikander is certainly one of those actors. Finally, it’s worth mentioning Riz Ahmed and Tommy Lee Jones in the same breath, as they play small but integral parts, playing off each other very well, sharing animosity for each other and executing their plans in different and unique ways. Ahmed is a huge talent, breaking through two years ago with the stunning ‘Nightcrawler’, and he does a great job here with a smaller role.
‘Jason Bourne’ is sure to be loved by all Bourne fans. It’s intelligent, bursting with social commentary and features some thrilling action sequences. Greengrass once again comments on the times, with the movie focusing on the importance of privacy and how intelligence officers sometimes abuse their power beyond comprehension. Damon is fantastic, returning to a character nine years after his last outing and jumps right back in the role, giving arguably his most physical performance to date.
After all the visually-oriented movies of the summer – namely the superhero movies – this level of realism is a breath of fresh air. ‘Jason Bourne’ is as close as it gets to portraying real-life espionage; the action isn’t done in a second; people don’t die and come back. In the world of Bourne, it’s a no prisoner sort of film, which is really refreshing in a world with happy endings. The ending is one that the franchise could easily end with and leave the fans happy, but if they decide to make another movie, there’s so much that they can dive into. As we’ve learned from Damon and Greengrass – never say never. And if the series keeps putting out great movies like this, why the hell should they stop.